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Curiosity in Business

Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

  • anonymous

Curiosity killed the cat (probably one of PETA’s most hated sayings) is used to warn of the danger of unnecessary investigation or experimentation.  The addition of the rejoinder, satisfaction brought it back, indicates that the risk of being curious would lead to the resurrection of the cat (remember cats have multiple lives) because of the satisfaction felt after fulfill the curious question.

Curiosity in Business

With respect to curiosity, two facts seem to collide.

First, studies have shown that curiosity in children peaks at about age four or five, and we become less curious from there.  As people grow older, they become more self-conscious, more fearful about asking questions, and are increasingly inclined to display confidence and expertise over curiosity and inquisitiveness.

Second, to compete in today’s dynamic and ever-shifting markets, employees and leaders have to be innovative, adapt, and embrace change.  Without these traits, businesses cannot survive. Those who have relied merely on expertise in the past are now faltering because they don’t have the tools, practices, or mindsets to adjust with the market.

The speed of things requires companies to be constantly learning, adopting new practices and perspectives, asking the right questions, and anticipating how they will be able to compete today and tomorrow. As a result, curiosity and inquiry are gaining increasing value for businesses today.

The collision of these two facts is that business needs more curious people but are recruiting from a workforce of declining curiosity.

The solution is for business leaders and entrepreneurs to promote curiosity every day at work.  We need to create an environment at work to teach and encourage our employees on how to be curious.

Be Curious

I have no special talents; I am only passionately curious.

Albert Einstein

  1. Lead by example.

When leaders ask questions, everyone within an organization feels more comfortable doing the same. Leaders who are open to asking and answering questions help foster an environment that is naturally inquisitive, increasingly engaged, and overall, more productive.

  1. Ask “Why” and use hypotheticals.

Asking “What?” is often necessary. However, “What?” has no value to your business unless people ask and understand, “Why?” Sometimes, when brainstorming within the workplace, it’s quite useful to ask the question, “What if?” This question can open people’s minds to possibilities and can remove constraints on creative and innovative thinking.

  1. Don’t fall into groupthink.

By bringing different teams and individuals together, different perspectives can create breakthroughs for a business. So, try asking a marketing team a question about product design. Ask designers to weigh in on business management strategy. Encourage your engineers to review a blog post. Outside perspectives bring fresh eyes and different strengths.

  1. Reward curiosity and learning.

Curiosity fuels productive business today. So, make sure you foster an environment that looks for, recognizes, and rewards people who strive to ask questions, learn, and grow. These people will be your best innovators.

  1. Be empathetic.

Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Think about the questions employees, customers, stakeholders, and investors would ask when considering your business, products, brand, and marketing strategies.

The Bible

One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.  It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

—Albert Einstein

            Holy curiosity.  We’re all born with a God-given sense of curiosity; it is a gift we are asked to use by our Creator.

Curiosity needs to inspire each one of us daily.

When we root ourselves in truth, a holy curiosity can lead to a deepening awe that increases our faith in God. Curious believers find themselves living with energy and hope, eager to learn and obey God and see Him work in their lives and this world.

            Great businesses rely on the curiosity of their employees.  And through relying on and building up of that gift from God, we all can be more curious and help our businesses grow.